Region brimming with birds
THE NEXT TIME YOU TAKE A STROLL, SEE HOW MANY DIFFERENT BIRDS YOU CAN SEE ACROSS THE REGION
Birdwatching is an ideal spring-time activity, particularly during a pandemic.
And Shepparton is home to a thriving cross-section of species, as Birdlife Murray Goulburn member Pat Feehan documented on a recent walk at Reedy Swamp.
Of the 42 bird species Mr Feehan spotted as he strolled the wetland, a few raptors stood out.
‘‘We saw a swamp harrier and seven whistling kites,’’ he said.
‘‘They’re probably going around raiding all the other nests.’’
There were big flocks of straw-necked ibises high in the sky and a shy Latham’s snipe waded in the shallow water.
Mr Feehan said spotting 42 species was on the higher end of the number he would expect.
‘‘For us it’s a pretty good number, we’d expect somewhere between 30 or 40 — it depends on the water levels, the weather, and the time of year as well,’’ he said.
‘‘At Reedy Swamp in particular, the water in-flow changes from month to month — at the moment there’s a bit of water going in, and over summer that dries out and it changes the mix of birdlife.’’
Spring is a fantastic season for birdwatching, according to Mr Feehan, and a great opportunity for budding enthusiasts to give it a go.
Mr Feehan and his wife, Denise, have been birders for five years and still see birds they’ve never spotted before on their daily walks in and around Shepparton.
They saw a rufous songlark for the first time recently, which one online guide described as a ‘‘plain brownish’’ songbird with a spectacular song, including ‘‘long sequences of trills and loud electrical phrases’’ — looks could be deceiving.
As the weather warms up, snakes are also out and about, so be aware of your surroundings when your eyes are on the sky.
Mr Feehan has also seen two tiger snakes in recent weeks.
‘‘They are getting around so people do need to be aware,’’ he said.
But these natural members of the ecosystem shouldn’t be a deterrent to prospective birders.
‘‘It’s great fun,’’ Mr Feehan, who discovered the passion in retirement, said.
‘‘You can get sucked in.’’